Best tele pickups for classic rock?


Hey guys.

I'm looking to upgrade the pups on my Tele. I mainly play classic rock/arena rock (Kansas,The Jam, Boston, Europe, Queen). I look at this website and find some variants, but i wanna buy good tele, so i need help. My budget is little over $100, if that's possible. I'd like to stay as low as possible, though.

If at all possible, please post sound samples or a testing video or something along with the pups you have suggested.

Thanks in advance.


I have a set of Bill Lawrence Keystone pick ups in my Tele and am very happy with them. After trying my Tele two of my friends bought the same pick ups. Made and sold by Becky Lawrence and family right here in the USA and well with in your budget. Thanks john


I put these Tonerider Hot Classics in my parts Tele and I couldn’t be happier. Hot and spanky. I can see these being great for all sorts of music. About $90 last time I checked.


I like the Lollar Special T bridge and neck pickup set, as well as the Lawrence Keystone set mentioned earlier in this thread.


The Fralin Blues Special work well for me. I have the 4-way switch as well.


I'm looking to upgrade the pups on my Tele. I mainly play classic rock/arena rock (Kansas,The Jam, Boston, Europe, Queen)

How in the world did the Jam slip in there?


I appreciate the ask was for $100 in total and so my suggestion is a bit of a budget buster at $200 for the set - but I have Fralin overwound high output tele and a 4-way switch setup which is very versatile. As a bonus you get Don Rich and Clarence White twang in spades if you lay off the distortion. You'll probably also want to consider using a compressor pedal in combination with distortion. Another eye opener on the tele was running a preamp pedal. I replaced the saddles and bridge hardware with Callaham parts which improved the tone and sustain somewhat. Getting the pickup height right was crucial to the tone and so before you invest you might try some adjustments and see if you can achieve an improvement with what you have(!). Probably not an option for most tele owners wanting to retrofit - but nevertheless cool - I have been listening/watching some Jason Mozersky (Ben Harper/Relentless7) lately. He's got a '51 reissue with a Seymour Duncan Charlie Christian in the neck position (routing required). Some pretty amazing heavy tones coming out of that rig and Jason is quite a player. The Charlie Christian pickup in a Tele looks classy and exotic. Good luck!


I have a set of Fralin SPs in my Tele. Got them used for $100. Works well for me.


I know this thread is a little old, but I thought I'd just give a thumbs up to the Tonerider hot classics. I put a set in my son's squier standard tele while he was away working and travelling for a few years. I was a bit nervous that he wouldn't like them, but he thinks the bridge pickup is just fabulous. I liked both, the neck pickup sounds as good as any good strat neck pickup, whereas the bridge has both bark and bite whilst being quite a tame little puppy when needed.


I'm a big fan of the Chopper T by Dimarzio for rock tones


I found a set of used 2015 Fender pickups from a 2015 American Standard that I'm going to put in a parts Tele I'm about to embark on. I did some research and they should be a Broadcaster bridge pickup and a Twisted Tele neck pickup. All the clips I've ever heard from the American Standard Telecasters of the mid 2010s sound great. They are the same pickups that are in the MIM Fender Baja Telecasters. Fender pickups are great.

I had some Wilde Keystones in a previous Telecaster and I loved them too. They are very clear and balanced. I also have a Rose Robusta neck pickup in my Strat and Rose Mozart pickups in one of my original designed guitars. Ken at Rose knows what he's doing. I haven't tried his Telecaster pickups but I'm sure they are great too. My friend Sayoko Kuwabara has her company Kuwabara Pickups. She used to work at Fender and I hear she also makes great Telecaster pickups. You can find her on Facebook.


First off, what's not working with the current pickups?
Have you adjusted pickup height, tried different strings, change amp settings, adjust guitar tone/volume? What amp, pedals, etc do you use?

It seems for the sound you're after, I'm thinking of a hotter pickup and no so much a vintage telecaster sound.

There are a lot of boutique pickup makers, but they are essentially a variant on the Fender pickup design (give or take). Unless you know exactly that specific thing, I think you're safest with Fender pickups. (you can find them used or if you need to resell you won't lose much)

Staying in the Fender relm, maybe a Fender Texas Special would work.

If staying under $100 is a must then I'd suggest Fender Tex-Mex. These are hotter than a traditional tele pickup, would work with gain and the sounds you're going for. (I should mention that it seems those tones you're after are a combo of humbuckers and singles) so that's why I'd think a hotter tele set.

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